NZ one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries for 2018

The Paparoa Track, West Coast. Image: Department of Conservation

Lonely Planet has picked New Zealand as one of its top 10 countries in the world to visit in 2018.

The country is ranked fifth on the list of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018, the 13th annual edition of the global travel guide’s best destinations, journeys and experiences for the year ahead.

The development of the West Coast’s new Great Walk, the Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track, was the focus of the guide’s New Zealand coverage. The new 45km track will run from Blackball, near Greymouth, to the coastal settlement of Punakaiki and is expected to be fully open in 2019.

“Twenty-five years ago, long before it was retrofitted to resemble Middle-earth, New Zealand began actively attracting adventure-seekers,” wrote Lonely Planet’s Pat Kinsella.

The Great Walks, a “sweet suite of trails”, encouraged exploration of New Zealand’s “stunning wilderness”.

“Now, for the first time since the nine-track network was launched, a new Great Walk is under construction,” said Kinsella.

“The Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track, which commemorates the 29 miners killed in 2010, will form a magnificent multi-day trail through the South Island’s wild and wonderful west coast.”

Topping Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 list was Chile followed by South Korea, Portugal and East Africa’s Djibouti. It was the second time that New Zealand had appeared in the global travel authority’s top ten with the last appearance in 2010.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said: “Given the rapid growth in global tourism destinations, it is a real achievement to see New Zealand rated as one of the top five countries in the world by Lonely Planet.
“The recognition of the new Great Walk on the West Coast of the South Island is particularly satisfying as it is one more way we can spread the benefits of tourism across the country.”
Lonely Planet described New Zealand as “a wildly exciting place, where the best adventures are experienced under your own steam”.

“The country is crisscrossed with quality trails, but there’s a royal flush of routes – a premier league of paths that collectively caress the coast, clamber around mountains, explore escarpments, flow through Fiordland and venture onto the shoulders of volcanoes,” said Kinsella.

“These are the Great Walks. And soon there will be 10.”

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Countries 2018 are:

  1. Chile
  2. South Korea
  3. Portugal
  4. Djibouti
  5. New Zealand
  6. Malta
  7. Georgia
  8. Mauritius
  9. China
  10. South Africa
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